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Farmers to take full advantage of emergency food production incentives

EyeWitness News Business April 6, 2020 at 2:40 pm Natario McKenzie

$1.7 million outlay ‘a drop in the bucket’ but “it’s at least a start”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamian farmers are prepared to take full advantage of the various initiatives included in the government’s agriculture and marine resources emergency food production plan, noting that while the initial government outlay of $1.7 million is “a drop in the bucket, “it’s at least a start”.

Caron Shepherd, President of the Agro-Entrepreneurs Cooperative said: “Other countries have been reducing their export inventories and we have to wake up and realize that we have to seriously start dealing with this issue of food sufficiency.

“The farmers are going to aggressively into putting their efforts into producing the things we need to produce even if it’s just for the local market. We are no where near export yet but at least we can supply the local market.”

Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Michael Pintard recently unveiled in Parliament the government’s agriculture and marine resources emergency food production plan as part of its effort to strengthen food and nutrition security in the country amid the COVID-19 crisis.

According to Pintard, the government will undertake several initiatives to help local producers. Some of the initiatives the government is looking to roll-out include provision of farm inputs; land clearing initiative; reestablishing the backyard gardening initiative; and making hydroponic systems and shade/greenhouses available to a range of producers including young farmers and backyard gardeners.

The current plan calls for the purchase of 343 hydroponic systems at a cost of $343,00; 10,000 backyard gardening kits at a cost of $240,000; and for the introduction of a program to intensify egg production estimated at $376,217.  The plan he noted requires roughly $1.7 million.

Shepherd said: “While it is a drop in the bucket for where agriculture needs to be we want to b able to get started. This points us in that direction. Even though it may be a small amount we see it as at least a start. We are appreciative that the government is making the effort. We are embracing this opportunity and will take full advantage of it.

Shepherd noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and the various restrictions which have resulted in persons spending more time at home has led to a significant increase in backyard farming.

“Persons are purchasing seedlings because they now want to have a small backyard garden. With all the down time persons have now it makes it even better for people to start their backyard gardens,’ she said.

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